Collaborative PhDs bring a big boost to small pharma and the life sciences
are exciting times for the life sciences industry, with the opportunity for
many new collaborations driving innovation. With the recent announcement that
the UK government has acknowledged the vital role played by life sciences in
driving Britain’s economy, there will be new opportunities through the
Industrial Strategy, in the form of a Sector Deal for Life Sciences. This will
allow for an unprecedented level of cooperation and innovation in the UK where
the life sciences are concerned.
Bringing together universities and the government with charities and over 25
businesses, the deal has sparked all involved to jointly commit to investing in
life sciences across the UK. This will give businesses a way to tap into
expertise and resources at Britain’s universities. This is an excellent
opportunity, as British research institutes and universities rank among the
world’s best, attracting and nurturing some of the world’s foremost innovators
It is the best possible time for a collaborative drive of this nature, with
productivity levels among pharmaceutical companies hitting low levels in more
recent years. They have come to rely on the same drugs for decades, and the
open opportunity for start-ups to collaborate with universities is poised to
revolutionise our approach to the creation of new medications, while helping
the UK meet its promise to raise R&D funding.
An example of the pioneering efforts we will soon be seeing is those
spearheaded by the Hertfordshire Science Partnership (HSP), with funding from
the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as well as Hertfordshire Local
Enterprise Partnership. This project couples innovative businesses with local
academic experts in order to further the research and development of new
technologies, as well as translate the discoveries made into high-value
services and products.
The partnerships of businesses and universities are hardly new. Big businesses
have been actively tapping into the expertise of universities for R&D
purposes for quite some time. Yet the results of these efforts have previously
been difficult to access for smaller companies, especially in the
pharmaceutical sphere. Small businesses often struggle when it comes to finding
funding, so while they have the ambition for innovation there are practical
roadblocks that have always stood in the way.
All that is set to change, with the Partnership aiming to fund and facilitate
at least 28 collaborative projects in the life sciences by 2023.